Sal Volatile: The Career of Ryan Glasgow

Sal Volatile: The Career of Ryan Glasgow Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 29th, 2016 at 2:00 PM


[Eric Upchurch]

On September 7, 2013, Ryan Glasgow stepped onto the turf at Michigan Stadium in front of 115,109 fans (and another 8.65 million watching at home) for what was undoubtedly the biggest game of his life. Six minutes and 30 seconds of game-time later, Glasgow stepped into the turf at Michigan Stadium; just a redshirt freshman playing in his second game, he was double-teamed by future first-round NFL Draft pick Zack Martin and future third-round pick Chris Watt on the second play of Notre Dame’s second drive with such brutal swiftness that one of his shoes got stuck in the turf and failed to make the six-yard journey downfield with the rest of Glasgow.

The Notre Dame game was the first in-season wake-up call for a player whose time at Michigan has been shaped by a series of well-timed conversations and self-aware redirection. “We’re watching film that Sunday, getting coached hard—I mean, just got absolutely destroyed, but I think that served a purpose,” Glasgow says. “It kind of made me realize this is college football. People will just destroy you on the other team if you’re not ready to play.”


That there have been plays for a coaching staff to critique involving Glasgow in a Michigan uniform is amazing considering the mind-bending alternative, and that has nothing to do with his status as a former walk-on or any depth issues present in the early Hoke years. That Glasgow played football at all is shocking considering his parents’ stance on the sport.

Glasgow’s parents, Drs. Steven and Michele Glasgow, decided when their children were young that they didn’t want them to play football. Hoping to steer their kids toward something less violent and aggressive, they first presented them with the opportunity to play other sports as an outlet for their energy. In second grade, though, Ryan turned the pressure up on his father.

He approached his father one day and told him that he wanted to play football. The local youth league didn’t start until kids were in fifth grade, so it came as something of a surprise that Ryan was pitching his case so early. Ryan’s father told Ryan to talk to his mother, and Ryan informed him that she said Ryan needed to talk to him. He told Ryan they stood together on the issue and would prefer he not play, and Ryan went for the ace up his sleeve. “I said, ‘Why do you want to play football?’ And this floored me, actually, and this was a manipulative thing that he said,” Ryan’s father says. “He said, ‘Dad, I want to play football because you played football.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s not going to work, Ryan.’” (Dr. Glasgow played football at Penn.) His father told Ryan that he and his brother Graham were physically gifted enough to play many other sports.

Ryan dropped his head and started walking away when his father asked if there was another reason he wanted to play. He turned, his eyes lit up, and he said, ‘Dad, I want to run into people!’ His father then asked if there were any other reasons Ryan wanted to play. He had one more reason at the ready: ‘I want to knock ‘em down, dad,’ His father burst into laughter and told him that he could play. Ryan couldn’t believe what he just heard. “I said, ‘Look, if you think the greatest thing in the world is going out there and running into people and knocking people down then yeah,’” Dr. Glasgow recalls. “‘I mean, if we’re not letting you play football then you’re just going to be doing that some other way, so at least you should be out there with coaches in an organized sport and learn how to channel it and sort of go from there,’ and that was it. That was how they got permission to play. We had really planned on not letting them play; it was a very important thing to him.”

[After THE JUMP: “They can test how fast, how high, how much you lift, but some kids, they’re just football players.”]


This Week's Obsession: The Fleetwoods

This Week's Obsession: The Fleetwoods Comment Count

Ace October 15th, 2014 at 2:12 PM

It's a bye week and Atomic Dog happened, so this week's question is naturally inspired by Dennis Norfleet:

I think we can all admit our collective love for Dennis Norfleet extends well beyond what he's accomplished thus far as a Michigan football player. (What he could hypothetically accomplish is a topic for another week.) Looking back onto Michigan teams of the past—hoops and hockey included—which player or players stick out in your mind as somebody you enjoyed cheering on largely for reasons outside of their ability to perform between the lines?

Additionally, please include the song you'd choose for Special K to play when a hypothetical kick returnin' you prepares to receive a kickoff.

Seth: Oh man. Well, Dakich, but I have a feeling Ace had Andrew in mind when he asked, so I leave that to the basketball beat. There must also be an entire category for one-off videos: Coner's rap, Louie Caporusso: Love Expert, 2011 hockey's savage mock rock skit, etc.

There's a bittersweet one worth discussing: Big Will. As a player, in a time when Michigan needed a hero out of their 5-star DT, we instead got Thor. Soup did little to justify his hype until Brady swapped him back to defense and set the army of DL coaches on him. That fact unfortunately overshadowed a blue chip off-the-field career.

Even before he arrived, Will gave us two commitment celebrations: one a year before the rest of his class, the second a literal hat dance...

...after trolling recruitniks by declaring Michigan out and LSU his leader two days prior.

Will was a regular at various with-the-kids charity functions the players did, and these inevitably led to endearing photos of flat-topped Soup among the Lilliputians. I never found video of it, but in the same vein, I remember after we beat Michigan State in 2012 that the scoreboard zoomed in on the students as various smurf-sized players jumped up to sit among them, and then Will started to follow and you could clearly make out some girl in the drop zone mouthing "Oh shit!"

Finally, there was the misdemeanor so hilarious we begged EDSBS to bring back the Fulmer Cup: denting the hood of a car while trying to Dukes of Hazzard. This destroyed my previous all-time favorite crime by a Wolverine: Jerald Robinson's heroic destruction of a parking gate. Campbell may not have been as productive as Martin, nor as eloquent as RVB, but in times that called for levity as much as interior line depth, Big Will was at the very least hilarious.

Seth again: Crap, I forgot music. Kool & the Gang, Jungle Boogie: "Get down, get [your pad level] down!"

Also: this.

[Hit THE JUMP for Denard, Air Georgia, the owner of the world's most interesting pet, the unicyclist and the philosopher, and more.]


Recruits In Retrospect: 2009 Defense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2009 Defense Comment Count

Ace June 10th, 2014 at 3:44 PM

oh boy

A couple summers ago, I delved back into the blogspot days to look at Brian's 2008 recruiting posts and how well players lived up to expectations. There were high points, like Mike Martin wrestling Not Mike Martin. These were accompanied by lows such as "Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit." The McGuffie mixtape was rewatched, wistfully.

I forgot to continue the series last summer, so I'm picking it back up with the 2009 class; conveniently, all the players from that class have completed their time in the program, so it's easier to give a fair retrospective on their careers. If you want to go back and look though the old posts yourself, the Tate Forcier profile features links to every player.

While that last link is a nice teaser for the offense portion of this exercise, today I'll be looking at the 2009 defensive recruits. Brace yourselves.

Never Forget

I'm gonna go ahead and get the defensive back portion of this post over with, as the four commits in the secondary were Vlad Emilien, Thomas Gordon, Justin Turner, and Adrian Witty. Emilien's projection was a harbinger of doom for U-M's future situation at safety:

Projection: Either sparing special teams time as a freshman or (hopefully) a redshirt. In 2010 will be a major threat to start at strong safety, though he might have to fight Brandon Smith to get a job.

Brian, today, on this quote: "I was so innocent then."

Smith moved to outside linebacker, then announced his intention to transfer near the end of the 2009 season, ending up at Temple and never doing anything of consequence there. Emilien followed a similar path, playing a little special teams as a true freshman, then transferring after the first game in 2010 when Jordan Kovacs put a death grip on the strong safety spot. He ended up as, yup, an outside linebacker at Toledo, where he made 15 tackles as a senior last year.

omg shirtless heroin-laced carrot

Witty never actually made it onto the team due to academic issues, eventually landing at Cincinnati, where he's the top returner in the secondary this year. Not getting him through admissions may be viewed as a recruiting failure, but in context, it was totally worth it:

Adrian Witty, a teammate of Denard Robinson, is Denard Robinson's teammate. On this team, which they share, they play together. Also, Witty and Denard Robinson attended the same high school. At this high school, they played on a team which they shared and played together on: they were teammates.

That should be clear. Many, many folks regard Witty's offer as the heroin-laced carrot used to lure critical QB recruit Denard Robinson away from Urban Meyer's clutches and to Michigan's post-apocalyptic frozen wastes.

Even though Witty would've been, at worst, the second-best defensive back in this class for U-M, there are no hard feelings here. We salute you, heroin-laced carrot.

The most hyped recruit in the class was Massillon, Ohio's Justin Turner, a top-35 overall player to both Rivals and Scout.* It wasn't hard to see what all the excitement was about:

That excitement only grew after Turner tore it up at Army All-American Game, to the point that his recruitment post led off with a discussion of one of those B/R "[touted recruit] is [football titan]" posts:

If you're measuring by delusional expectations of internet denizens, Justin Turner may be the #1 recruit in the universe. You've got to have an avalanche of hype for some guy to write an article saying you're Charles Woodson and get this response:

"Good article, but i see justin turner being faster then charles woodson. I also see turner being a better saftey the woodson was but woodson will be a better return man."

IE: "Good article about some high school senior being the reincarnation of the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman, but don't you think you're selling him a little short? Also I have no recollection of Charles Woodson's return abilities, which were pretty much crap aside from one white hot moment." (Yes, this exchange happened on Bleacher Report. Where else could it?)

Brian took the conservative tack, comparing Turner to... Marlin Jackson. Let's just move along.

The one defensive back to actually make a positive impact on the field at U-M, Cass Tech's Thomas Gordon, came in as a relatively anonymous recruit. He got Brandent Englemon for his "YMRMFSPA" and this projection:

General Excitement Level: Well… he is the lowest-ranked non-kicker in the class, and that's probably for a reason. 
Projection: Obvious redshirt and will likely require at least two years before he's ready to see the field on defense. The most likely (but by no means assured) outcome is that he doesn't contribute much.

Yes, it's possible for a Cass Tech recruit to exceed expectations.

[*ESPN was a skeptical outlier, listing him as their #21 athlete. Point, ESPN.]


At least Mike Jones provided us this picture.

On to the linebackers: Isaiah Bell, Mike Jones, and Brandin Hawthorne. Brian's assessment of Jones' potential almost nailed it:

General Excitement Level: Eh; I'm expecting one of the OLB recruts to pan out in a big way, one to be okay, and one to wash out. 

Instead, nobody panned out big. Bell washed out before died, Jones saw the field sparingly before playing his fifth year at Western, and Hawthorne topped out as a nickel linebacker.

I won't spend much time on these guys simply because there isn't a whole lot to talk about, but I will note that when a search for a player comparison goes like this, there's a pretty good chance you've got a serious tweener on your hands:

So he's just like Shawn Crable, if Crable was six to eight inches shorter. So he's just like Chris Graham, if Hawthorne was a stiff, clunky guy incapable of shedding blockers and not much for changing direction. He's not like either, actually. I mean, just look at the guy. Linebacker? In college? Er. There's a reason Hawthorne is well down in the rankings.

Brian suggested Hawthorne "may be better suited for a 3-3-5 than a more traditional D," and hoo boy did some bad memories just come flooding back. Quick, to the defensive line!

THORQWASH & The Crab Person

Between this and the legendary hood slide, we're all good, Big Will.

Justin Turner wasn't the only five-star recruit to the established recruiting sites to get some major skepticism from ESPN. Will Campbell's rankings went #35 overall (Scout), #26 overall (Rivals), and... #21 offensive tackle (ESPN). Another point for the Worldwide Leader. Like Turner, an outstanding Army game performance added to the hype, as did pictures like this...

...and, for entirely different reasons, this:


In retrospect, however, maybe we should've seen Campbell's future weight issues coming:

Campbell is one of the biggest players in the Army game, but he's apparently not ready for the roller coasters when the teams visit Six Flags on Tuesday night.

"There's a weight limit on those things," he said. "I might be on the tea cups."

Even though he didn't have the desired impact until a solid, though not five-star-caliber, senior season, Campbell always gave a hell of a quote. Brian's Gabe Watson comparison was pretty on point; though Big Will didn't come close to Watson's production, they were similar players—jovial, wildly talented, bull-strong, big fans of food—with similar hype coming to Ann Arbor. 

craaaaaaab people craaaaaab people

Michigan landed two defensive ends in the top-100 range in the class: Craig Roh (right) and Anthony LaLota. While Roh never became an edge-rushing terror, he managed to consitently produce and improve despite boucing between positions—not to mention different defensive schemes that didn't necessarily fit his skill set—for his entire career due to factors outside his control. This comparison both worked and, well, didn't work:

Why Shawn Crable? Crable was a 6'6" athletic terror with chicken legs who spent his Michigan career bouncing from DE to OLB and would have been the perfect player to slot in this spinner spot. Crable was also rated right around where Roh is. The comparison here is very tight.

The tweener aspect of the comparison was spot-on, but Roh ended up being a very different player from Crable, more disciplined and able to hold the point of attack but far less explosive off the edge.

As for LaLota, he received one of the most random YMRMFSPA comps in this blog's history:

Alain Kashama… except good!

Kashama was a total project at Michigan, coming in with little football experience—as did LaLota, who played just 12 games of organized football before hitting campus—before settling in as a reserve pass-rushing specialist, eventually totaling six career sacks.

That ended up being six more career sacks than LaLota recorded, as he transferred back to home-state Rutgers two weeks into his sophomore season, where he quit football to focus on his education after a move to tight end saw him buried on the depth chart.

We end with the class curveball, Quinton Washington, whom everybody evaluated as an interior offensive lineman—with most saying he had a ton of potential there, this blog included:

General Excitement Level: High. It's clear the coaches were nuts about this guy and he's got the offers and recruiting mojo to back it up. 
Projection: Though the coaches have suggested Washington might see the field this year—they think he's that ready—a redshirt makes more sense with Schilling's move inside solidifying the interior line. He'll have to fight Ricky Barnum to replace Moosman next year; if he loses that battle he'll be the odds on favorite to replace Schilling in 2011.

Steve Schilling, in fact, was his player comparison. Washington instead moved to nose tackle early in the 2010 season, worked his way into a starting role as a junior, earned the nickname QWASH, and gave the defense a proficient space-eater until his role mysteriously diminished last season.

The real answer is Roh, but one could make a reasonable argument that Michigan's most critical 2009 defensive recruit was a guy who never played a down for the Wolverines: heroin-laced carrot (seriously, Brian, how the hell do you come up with these things?) Adrian Witty.


Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian November 14th, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Formation notes: We've already talked about Michigan's 3-3-5 at the end of the game, which was really blue for some reason:


filmed in post-apocalyptic-Denzel-Washington-vehicle-o-vision

The rest of it was as per usual. Michigan goes with an even front against spread packages and flares the LBs out to deal. This results in things like this…


…and is a declaration of immense faith in the DTs. Here's Ryan over the slot again:


Michigan used some super wide splits once, when they were sick of getting edged by the option:


This was a FB dive that looked dangerous before Pipkins spatted the ballcarrier for two yards.

Finally, here's something. What? I'm not sure. THANKS DIRECTOR GUY


I swear these guys who come in and think they're Football Tarantino.

Substitution notes: Secondary as it always is. The front seven saw the same rotation they have in the last couple games, with CGordon/Bolden/Ross backing up Ryan/Demens/Morgan at LB and Heitzman/Black/Pipkins/Clark backing up Roh/Campbell/Washington/Beyer. Heitzman's increased PT continued; Bolden got relatively few snaps. Ross got more, including the last drive, but maybe not as many as I expected he did going in.

[AFTER THE JUMP: getting gashed, responding, Kovacs in your grill]


Picture Pages: Ending It, Part I

Picture Pages: Ending It, Part I Comment Count

Brian November 13th, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Michigan punched in a touchdown on their only possession of overtime against Northwestern and took the field needing to get a fourth-down stop at some point to win. They got it right away. On first down, Will Campbell(+2, pressure +2) swims through a guard to get instant pressure; Colter finds a running lane because Washington is out of position and picks up seven yards.

Three plays later, Northwestern was still at the eighteen, out of downs. WHA HAPPEN? In three parts, what happened.

Second And Three: Campbell Two-Gap

Northwestern comes out in the pistol, with Michigan in an even front with Ryan shaded over the slot. They keep two safeties 13 yards off the LOS—they are essentially playing a man down in the front seven because Colter demands to be contained.

The FB started on the other side of Colter and motioned just before the snap; Michigan's linebackers shuffle a little in response, but not much. Northwestern is going to run a plain old zone play.


There is a mesh point here. Colter is reading Roh. Roh does two things once the tackle lets him go:

  1. He forms up at the LOS
  2. He shuffles inside a bit to remain tight with the hip of the tackle.


give + no cutback == job done

#1 makes Colter give. #2 prevents Mark from heading all the way backside, which is important. If my spread 'n' shred analysis skillz are now basically irrelevant at least they're useful for parsing Northwestern. I've seen this before:


It's the vertical zone read play RR termed "belly." Under RR Michigan wouldn't go so far as to move into the pistol, but they would slide the QB up a foot or two and make this same handoff. It looks a lot like inside zone to the defense, and usually by the time they find out it's not the guy going backside has picked up a nice chunk.

Belly is about doubling the DTs, and driving them back; failing that you go at the spot the backside DE vacated when he went to contain the QB.

Here there's nothing. This is the mesh point. The line is a solid mass of humanity from Roh to Campbell, with the only gap on the frontside as Clark contains. The DTs have held up at the LOS. Mark has nowhere to go save that frontside gap.


That's a problem because neither LB is hitting that gap. Meanwhile the fullback shoots downfield, looking for Kovacs. Mark has to redirect—this is not what the play was supposed to create—and this takes time, which is a saving grace.


Campbell is here, and then he's obscured because he's flung himself to the other side of his blocker and tackled.


Mark squeezes out a couple before most of the players on the field converge on top of him.


Now Michigan has third and short. They like third and short.


Things And Stuff

It looks like Michigan is conceding the first down. Second and three and Michigan puts a full two-deep coverage on, leaving just six guys in the box against seven players. It's almost like Michigan is playing TD prevent and living to fight again on first and ten from the 13.

This is all defensive line. Collectively the two DTs take on four blockers and while those blockers release, Washington is in a spot where he closes off a gap at the LOS. Roh has taken the cutback away. And when Mark redirects outside, Campbell fills the gap outside Washington.

This is a cost of cutting off screens. Remember last year when Michigan got burned by bubble after bubble in this game? Mattison responded by flaring Ryan over the slot. That was the first we had seen of that; it's now a standard thing. Bubbles have all but evaporated. So that's good, but it also leaves Michigan in some vulnerable positions. Here their best defensive player is irrelevant to the play. It would be nice to have some better run support on the edges.

I'm not sure about the LB play here. Both guys end up catching blocks. They do this because the NW OL does not extend their doubles. Since the doubles are not extended, the DL can make the play they make. I am still kind of nervous about it. There's no slant here so they just have to play it straight, and as a result neither gets anywhere near the play. I'm guessing that's the way they have to play it. Gives me hives. Help, anyone?

Will Campbell woo. He vexed the pants off of a couple of guys in this game. This play in particular reminded me of watching Hoke talk about DL technique at that coaching clinic. Campbell may get a little high, but he takes one step inside and then fires upwards, rocking the G backwards. At that point his hands are on the interior of the OL. He controls the block, and can go from one gap to the other when Mark does. If you watch it enough you'll be like oh right the sleds DL hit.

Campbell made the Northwestern G look like an inanimate object designed to be hit to teach technique. Heininger Certainty Principle +1.



Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line

Michigan Museday If the Dudes Get Dinged: D-Line Comment Count

Seth July 18th, 2012 at 7:46 AM

BWCNebraska-Heiko2  BarnumRoundtreeRohSpringGame-Heiko

♪ Well a whole season played with the first string guy is usually quite lucky.
And a squad who plays with the second team out can be anything but fussy.
But a team whose seen an important guy down—head concussed, knee on the ground!
If they ain't got depth around, then
all goes to poopie.
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but depth is hard to get!
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but we can get there yet! /♫


This is a continuation from last week when I went through the expected offensive depth chart and tried to predict what would happen—what's the dropoff? how do we react?—if each starter is injured for an extended time. Now, I'm not here trying to roll into town and stir up trouble, see? I'm a purveyor of portents and hedger of predictions only. What I seek to do is prepare us for any one of these dings, so that if one occurs we can say something intelligent like "it hurts to lose Roh but Black is probably the less replaceable!"

Why not all defense? Things slow down from here because the defense has a lot of intermeshing parts, and because there actually is depth in places to speak of. Mattison's er Michigan's defense has been characterized by interchangeable positions but really each spot is more of a sliding scale from NT to field corner where each one overlaps the things on either side of it. The listed spring/recruiting weights play this out (click e-bigitates):

Roster for HTTV

saturn-puntingzoltanQuickly again. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.

Nose Tackle (Avengers)

Geeks / O. Ryan Hussain|TheWolverine / 247 Sports

Starter: Will Campbell 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

Backups: Ondre Pipkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o ???, Richard Ash 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5 ???

In case of emergency: I'll be honest; this one is impossible to call straight. The 4-3 under is like the 3-4 in that it leans on the nose to suck up double teams and create mismatches elsewhere. The ideal is a superhero, and for the last few years we've had one of the best (by Ghost of Bo).


Hulk is gone but the franchise must go on, and for now that means we are 100% committed to making Thor work.


If the old 5-star takes up the hammer he's the pivot point of a great defense. If he doesn't then one of two mystery men could be anything from serviceable to disasters, and most things in between.

The upside on all three of Michigan's nose tackles is mighty. Weirdly, we think we know more about the true freshman, Ondre Pipkins, than the redshirt sophomore. Pipkins was a 4 or 5 star whose huge, squat, Tongan frame and jovial, Hoke-impersonating character made him and Michigan's need for nose tackle a cosmic destiny. If he's got the goods we'll see Pipkins early in spells of Campbell. True freshmen (Martin, Gabe Watson) of his caliber have fared well enough in rotational duty. The later this season goes, the more comfortable you can feel about Pipkins when he's called upon. Caveat: until he's called upon you have no idea if he can hack it, and for every huge dude you can name who could play right away (Marcus Thomas, Suh, Ngata, [sigh] Johnathan Hankins, DeQuinta Jones) there's 30 who need to spend a year as Ben Grimm before being The Thing. /metaphor used up.

In case of dire emergency: …break glass on Richard Ash. Nobody knows on this guy, who was recruited by Rodriguez as the last Pahokeeian project for Barwis to tear down and rebuild. The tear-down went unnoticed through 2010 and '11 and we caught a glimpse of possible rebuild when, 20 lbs. svelter, he made a few plays nice in the backfield. Ash could be anything from ahead of Pipkins to Adam Patterson. If that's where we are I could see Quinton Washington sliding down.

Rush Tackle (3-Tech)

6932489716_dcc6100ca6_oIMG_5048 - CopyKenny Wilkins
Right: Dell Callihan|

Starter: Jibreel Black 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Quinton Washington 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, Ken Wilkins 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Matt Godin ???, Willie Henry ???, plus nose tackles

In case of emergency: The coaches have made it clear that Jibreel Black can play, and moving him two slots down the size/speed slide chart of defensive positions means they want him on the field, and that they want 5-tech-ish skills at the 3-tech. This being a swing position means the backups could be different things.

Quinton Washington is a big dude who was an offensive guard until he and Will Campbell were swapped for each other in that experiment. He still looks like a guard, and has yet show much at tackle besides easily dismissible coach hokum right after the move in 2010 so it wouldn't look like Rodriguez was throwing substances at surfaces to see what sticks.

Q stuck although the OL he left is now about as leaky as the DL he came to save. That the coaches moved Roh and Black down the line tells you something about their faith that Washington is ready, and going into his redshirt junior year that might mean he'll never be. He's seen time on goal line situations and is likely to again. Early in the year I wouldn't be surprised if he or Ash—whichever wins—is backing up both interior line spots, and that later on we see some Pipkins and Campbell together time.

In case of dire emergency: Ken Wilkins has been absent enough from chatter that people email me asking if he's still on team. Yes he is on the damn team, and he's still just a RS sophomore, but yeah, there's room for true freshmen on the three deep. Those two seem to be Godin and Henry, the lesser heralded of the heralded class, both of whom would benefit from redshirts. Henry is the larger. Chris Wormley, whom I rate at 5-tech, seems a more likely backup.

Strongside End (5-Tech)

IMG_0886-- Chris Wormley

Starter: Craig Roh 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o

Backups: Nate Brink 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Keith Heitzman 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o, Chris Wormley ???, Tom Strobel ???, plus 3-techs.

In case of emergency: Craig Roh has to be the hardest four-year starter to project in history, thanks to many different careers as too-small WDE in a 4-3, a miscast OLB in the 3-3-5, then as the edge rushing WDE in Mattison's 4-3 under. Now he moves to RVB's old spot.

The backup here is almost assuredly Nate Brink, whom the coaches love but the fans hardly know because he's been hurt (he missed Spring because of it). When the coaches talk about the one-time walk-on they make sure to hit all of the Ecksteinian points: "coachable", "hard worker", "toughness", "great technique", "great motor." To that I might add he's 6'5 and 263, which is normal for the position. He's not Heininger (who as a sophomore backed up Brandon Graham), except in that he's some of the things you wrongly thought about Heininger. Then again I remember Brady Hoke making all sorts of guys into effect tech linemen.

If you'd rather see stars, Keith Heitzman is your guy. The beneficiary of the spring time Brink missed, the redshirt fresham was rated higher at tight end out of high school yet apparently good enough at SDE that the coaches moved Jordan Paskorz instead of him. Either this was a promise made at the time of his last-minute recruitment—likely since Tim reacted strongly when I say him and the TE depth chart together—or an endorsement by Hoke that he can play, or both. Best guess is it's both.

In case of dire emergency: Any of the freshmen linemen but Pipkins and Ojemudia are ready built for 5-tech. Of these Chris Wormley was a longtime high school star, which tells me he is probably physically ahead of the other guys right now. Tom Strobel is the other proto-RVB here. One day I expect we'll see the two of them playing next to each other at 3- and 5- respectively.

Weakside End


Starter: Brennan Beyer 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5, or Frank Clark 4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o4128455980_9d72f36b6b_o.5

Backups: Mario Ojemudia ???, plus 5-techs

In case of emergency: Well if one goes down the other starts. Following a trend, both Clark and Beyer were OLBs last season, while this spot was rotated between Black and Roh. Though technically a unit change, the job they did last year—outside rusher—and what they'll be called on to do this year are not all that dissimilar. It speaks well to both that they played as true freshmen ahead of once-touted Cam Gordon. Read less into that, since Gordon was hurt to give them the opening and their skillsets are different from his.

They're also different from each other. Beyer was the more highly regarded and will get called "solid" more often because he's less eventful than Clark. Clark has the greater athleticism (see: interception in Sugar Bowl) though has been convicted of multiple accounts of giving up the edge, a freshman mistake repeated in spring. The rest of the D-line by design is meant to free these guys up for sacks, thus I see both rotating. If one goes down we lose the rotation.

The only other designated WDE is freshman Ojemudia, who is about 200 lbs. right now and would be 2009 Craig Roh'ed by most of the OTs and TEs on our schedule. Far more likely, in the event we lose one of the sophomores, we'll see one of the 5-techs or SLBs move in before the shirt is lifted from Mario. Craig Roh has played WDE more than any other spot, and Brink has the coaches' trust to fill in at 5-tech.

In case of dire emergency: Packaging still covers but there's Ojemudia if you need him. Packaging means in pass situations you just put Jake Ryan here and have Cam Gordon or Brandin Hawthorne or a nickel corner come in; otherwise go "big" (for a certain definition of such) with Roh back to wide and whichever backup DT/SDE in the game instead.


Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 15th, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Gratuitous Video of the Week: here's Will Campbell showing men of Thor who Thor really is:

More on him later.

Formation Notes: Michigan ran a lot of nickel against ND since ND ran a ton of three- and four-wide sets; this was usually an "even" front:


IE, both sides of the line are set up essentially the same way. You can see Thomas Gordon over the slot to the bottom of the screen.

When ND went to more conventional sets it was the 4-3 under. Here's an example you might recognize:


They also did their okie thing and nickel eff it, but you know about the latter from momentarily horrifying touchdowns.

Substitution Notes: much less rotation on the defensive line this time around. Roh and Black split time at WDE. Martin was almost always the nose. Van Bergen split time between three-tech and SDE, as did Heininger. Heininger also spotted Martin at the nose when he took a breather. Washington got in for a few plays; Campbell replaced Heininger late to excellent effect. Both were three-techs.

As you can see above, it seemed like Michigan had two different packages on the line:

  • Pass rush: SDE Ryan / NT Martin / 3TECH RVB / WDE Black/Roh
  • Run D: SDE RVB / NT Martin / 3TECH Heininger/Campbell/Washington / WDE Black/Roh Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens went the whole way at LB. The WLB was Desmond Morgan for the first four or so drives and then Brandin Hawthorne the rest of the way. Ryan also lined up at defensive end plenty when ND went to packages with lots of wideouts.

In the secondary it was mostly Avery and Floyd with Woolfolk rotating in from time to time. Kovacs and Robinson played the whole way at safety; Thomas Gordon got all but a handful of snaps as Michigan spent most of its time in a nickel package.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 11
Morgan starts and immediately gives up a play. Wood's headed straight up the middle of the field but Demens is there, unblocked. Martin(+0.5) was momentarily doubled and then gets the inside guy to release downfield. He then sets up inside of the G. That plus Demens means Wood has to cut outside of the Martin block and inside of Roh. Morgan(-2) fails to read the play quickly enough and does not get outside to stand Wood up in the hole. Have to get here if you're unblocked. If he's there Wood has nowhere to go and this is a no gain. Instead he's late, missing an arm tackle(-1) and sending Wood into the secondary for Kovacs to tackle.
M46 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 5
Heininger at the three tech with RVB at the five, except this is an even front with Roh on the strongside. Michigan slants its line away from the play; Roh(+0.5) shoots under the TE quickly enough to bang the pulling G. He's not far enough upfield to stop him cold but does slow him up and prevent him from effectively blocking Morgan. I am not entirely sure but I think Demens may have screwed up here—usually when you see a slant like this both linebackers will flow over the top behind it. Instead Demens goes straight upfield, getting knocked out by a tackle releasing downfield. HOWEVA, Gordon is blitzing off the edge so maybe Demens is doing what he should and it's Morgan who is making the error by not getting inside to bounce the play to his force help. So I just don't know. I think this is Morgan(-0.5) because of the blitz, and he did fall off the tackle(-1), but Demens(-0.5) also comes in for a wag of the finger.
M41 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle out Floyd? 21
Looks like the same slant. Roh(-1) is left unblocked on the end, sees the TE pulling across the line, and crashes down the line at said TE. He gets chucked to the inside as he releases into the route. Rees has no pressure on the corner and finds Floyd wide open for a big gainer. (Cover -2, Pressure -2, RPS -1) Either on Floyd for going deep when he had help over the top or Gordon for not getting over fast enough. I'd be guessing.
M20 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin 11
TE originally spread out before coming in as an H-back over the gap between Martin and Heininger. Both linebackers flow to to the wrong side a step as the RB takes a counter step before cutting backside. Heininger(-1) was easily kicked out of the hole and sealed. Martin(-1) is slanting, I think, and also gets blown out of the hole. Morgan(-0.5) and Demens(-0.5) both get blown up by ND OL on the second level, and Wood just shoots straight upfield. Yuck.
M9 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-4 over Run N/A Yakety snap -- 0
Fumbled snap.
M9 2 G Shotgun 4-wide Nickel over Run N/A Quick pitch Black 2
Eifert split out. Slightly, Michigan shifted towards him in case there is funny stuff. Morgan telegraphs his blitz, Rees checks. He checks to a quick pitch outside that takes advantage of that blitz(RPS -1). Black(+2) is left unblocked and starts charging up at the quarterback; on the pitch he changes direction impressively, gets out on the RB, and manages to tackle(+1) just as Wood crosses the LOS. Terrific individual play.
M7 3 G Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 7 Rollout out Gordon 7
Michigan sends the house; Notre Dame rolls away from the pressure and towards the out route Riddick is running on Gordon; Gordon has to set up with inside leverage and has no real chance at doing anything with this. Cover -1, RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel under Pass 4 Dumpoff Morgan? 15
This director is very frustrating because his shots are all super-tight. You can see literally three yards downfield. Is this zone or man? I don't know. I believe it's zone given the reactions after the dumpoff. Problem: Morgan(-2, cover -2) takes off on a drag route as if it's man, opening up this stupid dumpoff for a big gain. No pressure(-1), either. On replay, definitely zone except for Morgan.
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel under Run N/A Pin and pull zone Martin -3
Martin(+3) gets under the blocker assigned to him and shoots into the backfield for a TFL. Roh(+1) had set up outside in good contain position, removing any chance of a bounceout. Heininger(-1) got clobbered, though it didn't matter. RPS+1 for the slant.
O29 2 13 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle N/A 16
Kovacs and Morgan telegraph a blitz; Rees checks out of it; Michigan does not check out of their blitz. The check is a power play to the strong side of the line, where there are two Michigan defenders and four blockers with the pull. RPS -2. Hopeless. Heininger(-1) makes things worse by getting destroyed. RVB(-1) flew upfield, opening a big hole. Demens is almost triple-teamed as a result. Wood can go to either side. Gordon has to keep leverage and heads outside; Wood cuts in. Robinson(-1) comes up hard, misses the tackle, and gets lucky that Wood is forced into Floyd.
O45 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Out Demens 6
Zone blitz sends Morgan and drops Black. This gets a free run for Morgan and does see Black cover Eifert effectively, but no RPS because ND has a hot route they hit. Demens is in man on Riddick; Riddick runs an out; he was lined up way outside of Demens; all Demens can do is tackle. It is possible Gordon was supposed to be in zone here but I think it's just a tough cover for Demens as Mattison tries to confuse ND.
M49 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Why does ND always have at least two linemen with full-on Viking manes? I can't think of a team more likely to have hair sticking out of their OL's helmets.
O46 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Drag Kovacs 11
Washington in. Morgan(+1) blitzes and gets in clean, lighting up Rees as he throws (pressure +2), but Demens has been run off (cover -1) underneath and a short crossing route is turned up for 8 YAC. This is not Demens's fault—he actually did a great job of passing Floyd off to the safety. Kovacs(-1) is the culprit I think; two ND receivers jumped inside and he was the nearest available defender.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Bubble screen Demens 8
Gordon(+1) does a great job of avoiding a cut block and is right there; Demens(-2) is flowing from the inside. He overpursues and lets Floyd back inside of him when the two of them had him pinned for a minimal gain. (Tackling -1)
M35 2 2 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 6 TE In -- 13
Morgan and Ryan blitz and are picked up(pressure -2). Once that happens it's an easy matter to find the hole in the zone. Kovacs and Demens were the guys nearest but this is on the blitz not getting close to home.
M22 1 10 Shotgun empty bunch Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Morgan 14
Morgan(-1) again telegraphs his blitz, Rees checks, Michigan does not check, and it's easy as pie to throw it where Morgan blitzed from (RPS -2.) It's a matter of picking the wide open WR. Mattison getting torn apart so far. Kovacs(-1) misses a tackle(-1), ceding another half-dozen yards.
M8 1 G Ace Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 5
Michigan still slanting these. Unlike Roh earlier, Ryan(-1) does not get underneath his blocker. He's kicked out. The slant isn't helping Heininger but he gets annihilated(-1). Big hole. Morgan(-0.5) gets pancaked, but he wasn't done any favors. Held down by safety help near the goal line.
M3 2 G Ace Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Black 3
Same play they ran for 11 yards on the first drive. Black(-1) blown out by a double. Martin(-1) fights to the wrong side of his blocker; Morgan(-1) again goes with the counter step and again gets pancaked in the end zone. Demens(-0.5) can't do much. This is easy, yo.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-14, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Trap? Van Bergen 2
Hawthorne in. G pulls around Martin(-0.5) as the C kicks him upfield. Tough job to stay disciplined there but Martin could have done better. Hawthorne shoots the gap outside and misses but does get an arm on Wood, causing him to stumble. RVB(+1.5) fought inside a double and now gets in the way, forcing a spin; Demens(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) converge to thump him down.
M37 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Out Floyd Inc
Zone blitz sees both DEs drop off as the MLBs blitz and Kovacs comes from way back. Rushers get picked up and Rees has a guy wide open on an out for the first (pressure -1, cover -1, Floyd -1), but instead of throwing it at the WR he throws it in the direction of Floyd five yards deeper. That's a letoff.
M37 3 8 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Hawthorne Inc
Hawthorne(+1) sent on the same blitz Morgan was earlier, but he doesn't tip it off, getting in free right after the snap (pressure +2, RPS +1). Rees chucks it in panic. General direction of a drag that probably won't get the first down; turfed. I have a new respect for giving free rushers +1s after watching Morgan earlier.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-14, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel over Pass 5 Bubble screen Gordon 22
Blitz from JT Floyd in the slot and ND bubbles right at it (RPS -1). Gordon gets a chuck in press man on Riddick, then disengages as Kovacs comes up. Riddick takes Kovacs. Gordon is now alone with Floyd on the edge. Floyd smokes him(-2, tackling -1) to the outside and turns a moderate gain into 20 yards.
O36 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Power off tackle Martin 0
RVB(+1) stands up to a double right at the LOS. This allows Martin(+1) to read the pull and pull himself, getting into the hole. Demens attacks and gets there at about the LOS; he turns it inside but I think he got bashed out the hole and would have given up a lane if not for Martin. Black(+1) set up, chucked the DE, and dove at Gray's feet as he passed—he's actually the first guy to tackle(+1). Well done all around by the DL.
O36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Woolfolk Inc
Hawthorne as a standup DE-ish thing and Ryan as an MLB. Blitz telegraphed? I don't remember this play. Survey says... yes. Ryan blitzes, Hawthorne drops into coverage, ND picks it up. Rees wants Floyd on a fade covered by Woolfolk. Woolfolk(+2) is step for step and uses his club to knock the ball away as it arrives. Robinson(+0.5) was there to whack him, too. (Cover +2)
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 3 Hitch Kovacs Int
Massive coverage bailout: the one that worked. ND rolls away from pressure that doesn't exist and still lets the backside DE roar in free. Rees has a timer in his head and needs to chuck it; he does. Kovacs(+3) backs out into a zone, reads the roll and the QBs eyes, and undercuts Floyd to intercept. Only problem: Eifert is wide open in the seam for a touchdown. Um (cover +1, RPS +1). I guess. Picture paged by dnak438.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-14, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Screen Black Inc
Black(+2) reads the screen, gets upfield, shoots out on the running back, and tackles him as Rees turfs the ball. (RPS +1, cover +1)
O24 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Run N/A Draw -- 20
Michigan shows the okie package on second and long; Rees checks, Michigan does nothing, and even after it's like “they called a play where they think we have no MLBs,” they still drop Mike Martin into a zone like it's third and twenty. Black did try to stunt inside and get crushed to the ground, so that's a -1. Everything else is on Mattison here. RPS -3. Little chance to defend this. I do wonder if the draw defense here was supposed to be Fitzgerald plunging down the line from outside.
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
No question about this. Avery shoves Floyd OOB on a very catchable fade (-2, cover -1).
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel press Penalty N/A False start -- -5
I bet they all saw “Thor” on opening night.
M46 1 15 Shotgun trips Okie Pass 5 Tunnel screen Fitzgerald 3 – 15 Pen
Michigan drops a couple linebackers and sends five. The blitz prevents any ND OL from getting out just because they're getting blocked, essentially, and Fitzgerald(+0.5) just has to form up; RVB(+0.5) tackles from behind. RPS +1. Thor gets a personal foul.
O43 2 26 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Fade Floyd 26
Floyd on Floyd action. Floyd(+1, cover +1) has excellent, blanketing coverage on Floyd but the back shoulder throw is perfect and his hand is a half-second late. Floyd stabs a foot down and Floyd can't do much other than ride him out of bounds. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. This is one of those times. That is hard. That is why Floyd (not our Floyd) is going to be rich in about nine months.
M36 3 In Goal line 4-3 under Run N/A Dive Hawthorne In
Linemen just fall all over each other, leaving Hawthorne(+1) to leap over the pile with beautiful timing and nail Wood in the backfield. Could be a stop but Wood does burrow for the first. Refs got this spot on the money.
M36 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Heininger 5
Heininger(-2) crushed out of the hole. He has to take the double there; he does not. He gets sealed instantly and in one motion the T is out on Hawthorne. LBs have blockers in their faces. Demens(+0.5) sets up well and gets Wood to commit inside, then pops off and falls backwards and causes Wood to fall; Hawthorne(+0.5) had taken the hit and gotten playside. Not heroic work but they held this down without involving a safety despite both getting blocked.
M31 2 5 Ace trip TE Base 3-4? Run N/A Down G pitch Demens 3
Ryan(-2) is on the edge against three freaking tight ends and doesn't try to not get sealed. He's not even slanting. He rushes straight upfield, gets sealed by Eifert, and doesn't delay the puller. Hawthorne(-0.5) is on the LOS inside of Ryan and meets the same fate. Hard to blame him. Floyd sets up outside to force it back; Demens(+2, tackling +1) is running his ass off to beat the blocker coming out on him and catch Wood. He does just as Wood tries to break outside of Kovacs(+0.5), who had taken on the last TE and gotten outside all textbook and stuff.
M28 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Penalty N/A Delay of game -- -5
Brian Kelly thinks he's coaching basketball yo.
M33 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel stack Pass 4 Out Avery 15
Avery on Floyd; I think Floyd pushes off here to get separation but there is no call. Avery -1, cover -1.
M18 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 5 Rollout dumb Floyd Int
Rees goes “FLOYDFLOYDFLOYD” and throws it to him despite Floyd having three defenders around him, one directly in front of him. JT Floyd(+2, cover +2) picks it off.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Avery 12
Play action fake with a pull does suck Hawthorne(-0.5) out of position, but it's hard to not suck up given what's been happening. The bigger problem is Avery(-1.5, cover -1, tackling -1), who has no other threats than Floyd and would be fine if he just tackled on the catch here. He doesn't; Floyd breaks the tackle and turns five yards into a first down.
M38 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Nickel even Run N/A Down G pitch Black 3
Black(+1) slants inside the TE assigned to him, getting into the backfield. He draws one of the pulling OL and cuts off the outside, forcing a cutback. The TE peels back to try to deal with him and then thinks better of it. Wood cuts inside the Black engagement and would be in trouble if Heininger(-1) hadn't been completely handled by one-on-one blocking. If Heininger is just okay here this is no gain. Instead he's crushed, leaving a gap. Hawthorne(-0.5) was cut as well but gets up crazy fast; Demens(+1) avoided his cut and fills to thump.
M35 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 2
Good fightback from Heiniger(+1.5) here. He takes a one on one block and gets playside. This is definitely not supposed to happen since the H-back is running straight at this gap. Heininger is there; H-back runs into him. He holds. Running back now hits the pile; he starts to yield a little bit. He's still taken on two blockers and forced a bounce. An unblocked Demens(+0.5) is in the right place to lead the tacklers.
M33 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A Draw -- 12
Same thing that went for 20 on an earlier drive, with Martin backing out into a zone as ND runs a draw right at it. It's even worse this time as there is no one in the center of the field not dropping into a zone. RPS -3.
M21 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Rollout throwaway -- Inc
Good coverage(+2) causes Rees to throw it away as he nears the sideline.
M21 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 5 Fade Van Bergen Inc
They back out the MLBs this time and send the DL plus the OLBs. RVB(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) is instantly past the G assigned to him because of a poor pickup; Rees chucks a ball off his back foot that's not catchable. Eifert gives it a go, though.
M21 3 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Gordon Inc
Gordon(+2, cover +1) gets an excellent jam at the line and disrupts the route. I think this was destined for the slot but it could have been Floyd. Throw was less awful if it was the slot.
Drive Notes: FG(38), 7-17, 1 min 2nd Q. Greg Mattison's getting a little fancy here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Roh 4
Heininger out, Campbell in. I think Mattison knows Heininger has been getting manhandled. ND tries to run at Campbell; his(+0.5) response to a double is to burrow his way straight upfield. This does occupy two blockers for the duration of the play but I'm a little worried he went too upfield and didn't go down the line. This is still better than Heininger's output. Roh(+0.5) is also doubled and manages to split it after giving ground. This forces the RB outside, where Hawthorne can flow; Roh couldn't tackle but his penetration robbed the G of any ability to block Hawthorne. Would like Hawthorne to get to the hole quicker to hold this down a bit.
O24 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Quick out Floyd 7
Martin(+1, pressure +1) beats the center and threatens Rees up the middle. Doesn't matter because Floyd(-1, cover -1) is in the parking lot on a quick out for Floyd. Way too easy.
O31 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Martin 19
TE as H-back and lead blocker. Martin(-2) is clubbed, getting hit by a single momentary double and then sealed away by one guy after the G releases downfield. RVB(-2) gets upfield and is pancaked. Linebackers really have no chance here. Floyd(-1, tackling -1) is in overhang mode; he misses a tackle near ten yards and Wood ends up picking up 10 more.
50 1 10 Ace 2TE twins 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start -- -5
I bet they're all drummers, too.
O45 1 15 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen -- 8
Tough to defend as aligned(RPS -1), with Woolfolk bailing out and Gordon trying to hold his ground at about five yards getting blocked. Gordon does force it back inside, where Demens and MRobinson tackle.
M47 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Hitch Floyd 6
Heininger back in; they've flipped him to SDE with RVB at three tech. Hawthorne blitzes and is picked up (pressure -1); Rees hits Floyd on a hitch near the sticks in front of Floyd. Floyd probably gets the first down if he doesn't fall, but he does fall, so he doesn't. (Cover -1)
M41 3 1 Ace twin TE 6-2 Bear Run N/A Iso Van Bergen -2
Bear? Why the hell not. This is a line of six dudes across ND's line with the DL shifted one way and two linebackers lined up above SDE Heininger. Demens is the lone LB; Kovacs also ends up in the box at LB depth as Eifert motions in. RVB(+2) blows through his blocker and is into the backfield; Ryan(+1) blitzed untouched from the outside; Martin(+1) avoided a submarine block from the center and leapt into the path of Eifert up the middle, allowing Demens(+0.5) to charge through the gap unmolested and finish off the tackle RVB and Ryan started. RPS +3; big big stop.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-17, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Counter Ryan 38
Man, we suck at counters. This one is tough as Michigan has just six in the box against six blockers. Ryan(-2) plunges down the line and get annihilated by the RT. He is gone, he is being shoved into Martin, game over for the DL. Hawthorne(-1) sucked up to the LOS and gave the C a great angle to block him. I would be interested to know why Mattison doesn't key on OL pulls. There's got to be a reason. Anyway, with Hawthorne and the DL out of the picture, Kenny Demens(+1) is one on one with the pulling OL in acres of space. He sets up inside, realizes Gray is going outside of him, gets out to force a slow-down and cut-back, then gets plowed. Valiant effort there. Marvin Robinson(-3) then turns ten yards into many more by losing leverage. Kovacs had this covered at the sticks if Gray does not get outside.
M30 1 10 Ace 2TE tight 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Ryan 0
Excellent work by the entire DL here, as they flow down the line in textbook fashion. Martin(+1) controls the center and drives him back, flowing. Campbell(+1) takes a double but stays playside of it and occupies both blockers for the whole play. Ryan(+2) dominates the TE assigned to him, not only driving him into the backfield two yards but shoving him into Martin's lineman; Woods has nowhere to go except up his blockers' backs. RVB took a double too; he gave ground but it didn't matter. Wood then puts the ball on the turf; Campbell recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-17, 7 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle MRobinson 24
Simply untenable, this. RVB(-2) shoots straight upfield. He does bump a puller and delay him, but he falls to the ground and is useless. Martin is on the backside and wasn't going to be able to do much but now he's totally out of the play. Black(-2) locks in with Eifert and then makes a critical error: instead of bulling him back and stringing the play out he attempts to disengage. He gets playside but gives up two yards of penetration and gets way too far outside in the process, now getting caught up with Hawthorne. Then he falls. Big cutback lane. Robinson(-2, tackling -2) whiffs so bad he hardly slows Wood, turning a nice gain into a huge one.
M47 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel under Run N/A Inside zone Black 0
Floyd(-1) telegraphs blitz, no check. ND runs away from it and might have a big gainer if they can get the edge sealed. This time Black(+2) stands up, chucks Eifert inside of him, and pops up on the edge a yard into the backfield, forcing a cutback. Martin(+0.5) has flowed down the line to cut off the immediate cutback and Demens(+0.5) comes in from behind to tackle.
M47 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A Delay Demens 5
Michigan sends Ryan and Kovacs from the outside while dropping Demens and Hawthorne back to linebacker depth. This initially fools the LT, who ends up having to chase Demens(+1) as he scrapes to the hole to tackle. Demens ends up missing the tackle because the OL blocks him in the back (refs -1); Martin(+0.5) set up well and came off a block to finish the tackle. Should have been two yards or negative ten, but that's life. RPS +1
M42 3 5 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Pass 5 Rollout out Floyd 16
Floyd(-2, cover -2) gets killed on this little rollout out. Giving up the first down is one thing. Getting so far out of position on a five yard out that you can't even miss a tackle until the safety comes up and the WR has to delay is another. Easy.
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Van Bergen -4 (Pen +10)
M waits to tip its blitz until after the check, getting Gordon(+1, RPS +2) in off the edge on the playside. Michigan slants under the zone blocking and RVB(+1) gets through to tackle immediately on the cutback Gordon forces. Heininger(-1) erases all of that by yanking an ND OL by the jersey as he's cut to the ground.
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Floyd Inc
Floyd(+2, cover +2) in press here and stays step-for-step with Floyd on the fade, breaking it up as it arrives. Fade is not well thrown, which helps.
M16 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 two deep Run N/A Inside zone Demens 1
Three man line with Ryan as a Crable DT; they send him and Demens at the same gap. ND runs away from it. Trouble? Maybe. Martin(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) flow away from the blitz against single blocking and hold up; Demens(+2) keeps his head up, reads the play, gets into his blocker, and then releases down the line to tackle.
M15 3 9 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 two deep Pass N/A Drag Van Slyke 15
Three man rush leaves Rees all day(pressure -1) but does force a checkdown. Slot WR is running in front of Van Slyke(-2, tackling -1), who's too far behind to do anything but make a desperation dive that does not bring the WR down. That's the first down; the TD is mostly due to a stellar block by an ND WR that cut off three guys.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-24, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 TE out Hawthorne Inc
Herbstreit is now circling our telegraphed blitzes. Rees is still checking out of plays. This time it's Kovacs rolling up and blitzing; ND rolls away from it. Rees seems to have a WR open but goes to Eifert, who is blanketed by Hawthorne(+2, cover +2). Hawthorne comes over the top to break it up. Impressive.
O10 2 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne 8
Van Bergen(-1) is battered out of the hole but Ryan(+0.5) sets up right this time and Demens(+0.5) scrapes to hit the lead DE at the LOS. Narrow gap for the tailback that should be filled by Hawthorne(-1) but isn't because he shuffled to the LOS instead of flowing over the top and allowed the C to block him. Picture paged.
O18 3 2 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne -2
Same play. Michigan sends Hawthorne on a blitz this time. RVB(+2) shoots upfield, getting his blocker in trouble and picking off a pulling G. He is surging through both these guys two yards in the backfield as Wood approaches. Ryan(+0.5) again sets up well on the edge. Wood is going to try to bounce, which will test Ryan severely because Demens(-0.5) is not in position to bounce with him. Moot, though, as Hawthorne(+2) has zipped through the crack provided by the pulling G and tackles for loss. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-24, 13 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 PA TE drag Hawthorne 5
Rees goes play action and then finds his tight end for a moderate gain. Hawthorne tackles immediately. Pressure was getting-there-ish, coverage was okay, throw could have been better... this is average all around.
O45 2 5 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 2 (Pen -10)
Campbell(+1!) bowls over the backside G. RVB(+1) has cut through his blocking on the frontside, which forces a cutback. Campbell might have as shot at a TFL but is held, allowing the RB past; Demens(+1) reads and slices through a gap to make an ankle tackle as Wood gets to the LOS. Black(-1) got blown up and pancaked by Eifert on the backside, which is why this became dangerous.
O35 2 15 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 3 Tunnel screen Black 0
Hawthorne sent; Black drops off. Think Rees puts this too far outside but Black(+2) takes advantage. He's chucking a TE on his drop who turns into his blocker; Black shucks him and tackles Floyd at the line. (RPS +1, tackling +1)
O35 3 15 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 TE post -- 21
No pressure(-1) on a four man rush allows Rees to step up and sling it in a very small gap between Hawthorne and Demens(+1); this is good coverage(+1) that Rees beats with a fantastic throw. Demens was right there, man.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel spread Run N/A Inside zone Gordon 2
Hawthorne split out in man and I think this baits ND since it looks like Demens is the only LB. On the snap, Gordon blitzes and the line slants. RVB(+0.5) gets some penetration and Wood cuts back. Gordon(+0.5) is there to contain; Demens(-0.5) gets too far outside and doesn't provide a thump to hold this to one yard. RPS +1
M41 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Ryan 11
ND is taking a long time to get their plays called and M takes advantage, sending Gordon and Demens and dropping off Ryan. This is almost deadly. Rees hurries his throw and it's right at the zone Ryan(-1, cover -1) is dropping into except he's too far into the flat, so instead of going right to him it passes just by his outstretched hand. He drops properly and we could be talking pick six. (RPS +2)
M30 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 two deep Pass 5 Slant Woolfolk 8
ND runs double slants and Woolfolk(-1) is beaten to the inside; he does tackle immediately. (Cover -1)
M22 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
Kovacs rolls up; check. They take advantage of the man to man to take a shot at the endzone. Avery(+1, cover +1) is right in the WR's face as the ball comes in; it's low and to the outside and Avery can't do anything about the futile one-handed stab the WR makes, but it's a futile one-handed stab. Avery is hit with a terrible PI flag (refs -1)
M7 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 6 DERP DERP DERP
DERP. Michigan had blitzed and gotten Black(+1, pressure +1, RPS +1) in Rees's face so if this goes forward it's almost certainly getting batted anyway.
Drive Notes: DERP, 21-24, 6 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell? 3
Campbell does okay with a double but only okay and starts getting shoved back. ND RT releases downfield into... no one. Weird. I guess I have to give Campbell +0.5 since one of his guys was probably supposed to get Hawthorne. Hawthorne is now unblocked so he is headed to the frontside gap; Wood cuts behind. Demens(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) combine to tackle.
M23 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Out Woolfolk 6
No pressure(-1); easy throw for Rees as Woolfolk is in man. No minus here since it's a six yard completion with an instant tackle. That's kind of a win for the cornerback.
M29 3 1 Ace trips TE 6-2 Bear Run N/A Inside zone Ryan -2
Credit could go to either Ryan or Campbell. Campbell(+2) destroys the RT. He gets under him and pancakes the dude. He dead. This constricts the hole and picks off the pulling TE. Wood has to take it inside slightly, where Ryan(+2) blazed past the other tackle on an outside blitz and took a perfect angle to Flying Squirrel Tackle Wood; Demens(+0.5) was there to clean up if necessary. Either Ryan or Campbell was enough to stuff this. Both and you look dominant. (RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 2 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Floyd Inc (Pen 15)
Hawthorne(+1, pressure +1) gets a free run at Rees so he chucks it to Floyd, Floyd(-2, cover -2) is beaten instantly and starts yanking the jersey in a desperate bid to not be an instant goat.
M46 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 3 TE In Demens 12
All day (pressure -2) on a three man rush; Rees patiently waits until he finds Eifert for a first down. Demens right there to tackle.
M34 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Rollout out -- 5
No pressure on the roll but lots of coverage(+1) in the area because of the extra defender means Rees has to check down for a few yards.
M29 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 6 Fade -- Inc
Miscommunication between QB and receiver means pass is nowhere near anyone. Blitz was just getting home.
M29 3 5 Shotgun trips Nickel eff it Pass 3 Seam MRobinson? 29
This has to be a bust by someone but it's also hugely risky in an area of the field where you have another ten yards before you can really start bringing the heat. It must be Robinson(-2), but this is such a ridiculously hard thing to ask this kid to do that an RPS -3 is warranted. Picture paged by dnak438.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-31, 30 sec 4th Q

So how was that?

I don't know, man.

I sentence you to death!

I'm already a condemned man.

I sentence your face to death!

Great. So Michigan gave up 31 points and 513 yards on Saturday. They acquired four turnovers, only two of which could plausibly be declared forced—the two fumbles were just ND players dropping the ball—and one of the plausibly forced also featured a hand-wavingly open coverage bust. Without Notre Dame literally handing the ball to Michigan they likely score between 37 and 45 points. Yeesh.

There is one major mitigating factor: drives. Notre Dame had 13. That's a lot, even more than last year's opponents averaged (12.4) during a time when every other play was a long touchdown. It's still tough to be encouraged when the opponent threw for 8.1 YPA and ran for 6 YPC.

But Notre Dame's offense is really good!

This I buy. Eifert and Floyd are a hell of a receiving combo, their line consists entirely of veterans who Michigan would have loved to have, Brian Kelly is an established offensive super genius, and I love Cierre Wood. If Rees ever stops turning the ball over they could rack up some silly numbers. Big if given Rees's tunnel vision for Floyd, granted.

A quick glance at the schedule suggests the only offense that looks anywhere near as talented is at—ugh—Michigan State. If your line coming out of this game is "this is the most talented offense we'll face," I'm inclined to agree given the dodgy nature of the State offensive line.

And we got a lot better late!

Also true, but first let's get some context, let's get—


He does make an appearance.


Will Campbell chart.




Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 11 6 5 Two huge plays on third and short pull him above average.
Martin 9 4.5 4.5 Had one trademark slash for TFL, was otherwise kinda eh.
Roh 2 1 1 Do something!
Brink - - - DNP
Heininger 2 8 -6 Consistently blown up by single blocking.
Black 11 5 6 Made a lot of plays on the edge.
Campbell 5 - 5 Please be real.
TOTAL 40 24.5 15.5 Decent but the "pressure" metric below is a downer.
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 13 4.5 8.5 Twelve tackles and few errors.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 6 6 0 Had some trouble holding up on the edge when asked to slant
Fitzgerald 0.5 - 0.5 About two plays.
Jones - - - DNP
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Hawthorne 6.5 4 2.5 Alternated nice plays, coverage, with slow reads.
Morgan 1 7 -6 Yanked. Back problem time?
TOTAL 27 21.5 5.5 Can Hawthorne hold up?
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 5 8 -3 Good PBUs deep, couldn't keep on the radar underneath
Avery 1 4.5 -3.5 Struggled, but PI unfair.
Woolfolk 2 1 1 Limited.
Kovacs 4 2 2 Less explosive day, rarely blitzed, but didn't get beat.
T. Gordon 4.5 2 2.5 I like him.
Johnson - - - DNP
Robinson 0.5 8 -7.5 Lost leverage twice, blew deep coverage twice.
TOTAL 17 25.5 -8.5 FS play killing them.
Pressure 7 13 -6 Front four not getting anywhere.
Coverage 17 18 -1 Good deep in press man.
Tackling 4 10 -6 Very poor day.
RPS 22 18 4 Big recovery late with third and short stops worth +8.

The defensive line generally emerged positive but throw in that pressure metric and it's a below-average day. No one is getting to the quarterback. Their big positives came when ND could not pick up third and short.

I struggled with what to do with plays like the Kovacs interception, on which I gave Kovacs a big plus and Mattison/coverage a small one. (Given Rees's rolling out the TE throw would have been tough.) The surprising net result: a positive RPS day after a lot of big minuses. That is due in large part to Mattison bringing out blitzes that stoned Notre Dame on third and short three times. Those are critical turning points that, according to the Mathlete, swung Michigan's run defense from –4 points above normal (PAN) in the first half to +4 in the second.

Would you like to debate the semantics of the word "sound"?

There's been some pushback (at BWS and also on twitter) on my declaration the defense is not "sound" after pointing out the various ways in which Mattison plus Michigan's inexperience yield a bunch of holes in the D. Some of this is my fault since I did not make it clear that when I was describing something as unsound it was the defense as a whole, not necessarily any individual play. I say this because of plays like this:

Is this a massive missed assignment that leaves essentially no one in the middle of the field? I suppose that's possible, but it doesn't sound like it:

Longer runs when Mike Martin dropped into coverage. How do you protect the middle of field? “The same blitzes that hit the quarterback from western -- [Notre Dame] obviously saw that and didn’t want that pressure to come at them, so what they did was check to a run whenever they saw that look. We have defenses that look exactly the same that are run defenses, and it’s the same thing. I called the pressure thinking it was pass, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I should have called the pressure for the run because maybe they’re going to do that, and sure enough they did do it. And the next one they ran it on third-and-seven. If a team’s going to run it on third-and-seven, you aren’t ever going to pressure if you’re worried about it. And some of the overloads on both sides -- they aren’t great run defenses.”

Sometimes Mattison runs sucky run defenses on second and ten. Sometimes he calls plays where there's no one deeper than five yards and would like a true sophomore in his first extended playing time to cover not only the deep middle but a seam route he's not even looking at. Sometimes he asks the WLB to run hash-to-hash with his back towards the QB and then do something about a seven-yard hitch. Are these plays sound? Maybe some of them are… on paper. In practice the kinds of zone blitzing Mattison uses give certain defenders massively difficult tasks.

Is that sound? Yes, technically, but only technically.

I don't have a problem with this, by the way, since it's the equivalent of taking over Michigan's 2008 offense. Do whatever you want. Caviar dreams appreciated.

Do we have a weakside linebacker?

I think we might. Desmond Morgan got a shot and looked like a true freshman. He tipped his blitzes, failed to scrape to the hole despite being unblocked, and had at least one instance in which he did the "I'm in man, everyone else is in zone" thing we saw too frequently last year and from Herron in the opener. Sad fugee faces.

Then Hawthorne came in, and while he had his errors he also flashed impressive coverage skills…

…and the ability to Ian Gold his way into the opponent's backfield:

[update: wrong video. fixed.]

The sample size is small but in retrospect that practice where everyone freaked out because Campbell wasn't starting, then breathed a sigh of relief because Brandin Hawthorne was in there at WLB so it couldn't have actually been the first team defense, was prescient. Hawthorne leapt to the top of the depth chart in the aftermath of his performance and will likely stick there until Northwestern, Michigan State, and Iowa test him down the road.

Do we have a three tech?

Come on, baby. It eventually became clear to Michigan's coaches that Will Heininger was a problem on the interior and they started rotating other options into the game. Quinton Washington got a few snaps and didn't do anything of note. Will Campbell, though, not only features in the above Gratuitous Video but a couple other instances where he all but threw Notre Dame offensive linemen into the ballcarrier. Here he's held!

By the end of the game he'd racked up a +5 with no minuses. This came a week after WMU lit him up and he got promptly yanked.

What changed? Michigan's scheme probably helped. Against WMU they ran a lot of three-man lines with a nose tackle and a couple ends. Against ND it was all four-man lines in which Campbell was the three-tech. That makes him harder to double and apparently allows him to chuck a three-hundred pound redshirt senior like he's Sam McGuffie.

This almost can't be real, so let's say it's not. Likely scenario: Campbell is making some progress but needs to be constantly reminded of his technique, applied in limited situations in which he can succeed, and gets tired really quickly.

Do we have a free safety?

No. Best hope there is for one of the corners to take over at nickelback and get Thomas Gordon back there.

Do we have a weakside defensive end?

Maybe, but it's not the one people expected. Jibreel Black didn't get any quarterback pressure on his own but he still racked up a nice day thanks to athletic plays like this:

He's chucking tight ends out of his face and holding up on the edge (usually) and may have passed Roh. Now about that pass rush…


Kenny Demens was probably Michigan's best defender on the day, and when Campbell and Hawthorne's powers combined on the final four drives Notre Dame averaged 3.3 YPC on twelve attempts.


Marvin Robinson lost leverage frequently and busted the final TD. Anyone covering Floyd on anything but a fly route was helpless, but that can't really be held against them. Morgan and Heininger were poor before being lifted.

What does it mean for Eastern Michigan and the future?

The next three weeks will be spent consolidating a starting position for Hawthorne, working out what Campbell's role can be, working on reducing the number of busts, and hopefully finding someone to play free safety. IME this has to be Thomas Gordon, so look for Blake Countess to begin rotating in as a nickelback so Michigan can develop the corner depth they'll want to keep Gordon at safety full time.

They could look okay by the end of that period. I'm extremely worried about the pass rush from the front four, though. I assumed that would be a strength and it has not been anything close. If they don't get more they'll be totally reliant on wacky blitz packages Michigan's transitioning defense clearly isn't doing a great job of executing. That will make for a  rollercoaster.


2009 Recruiting: Will Campbell

2009 Recruiting: Will Campbell Comment Count

Brian March 13th, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, and LB Brandin Hawthorne.

Detroit, Michigan - 6'5" 317
campbellthor_thumb4 Scout 5*, #6 DT, #35 overall
Rivals 5*, #5 DT, #26 overall
ESPN 79, #21 OT
Others --
Other Suitors Miami, LSU, Alabama, Florida
YMRMFSPA Gabe Watson
Previously On
Chaos. Otters. Hello.
Notes Early enrollee. Cass Tech.

Will Campbell is an extremely large, extremely nerve-wracking person in an extremely silly getup above. (He's "Thor"; there was some photoshoot with Michigan high school players themed to be comic book heroes. Which, guy who came up with that idea: thank you.) Here is a silly dance:


That is the Will Campbell commit dance, which he only executed after arriving at the Army All-American game and declaring Michigan to be off his list and LSU his leader. Let's just get it out of the way: yes, it is a little annoying that Campbell decided he needed to give me and a lot of other people a heart attack for purposes of self-glorification. Kids these days, lawn, baggy pants and the goo-goo eyeball glasses drinking their milkshakes and bler bler bler. If it makes you feel any better, Campbell seems like a lighthearted giant a la Terrance Taylor, not a raging narcissist. Or at least no more of a raging narcissist than the average enormous muscle-bound 18-year-old who is 100% sure he's going to the NFL.

Also something that should make you feel better are salivating reports like so from the Army All-American game:

6-0/310, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
He is a full grown man out on the gridiron even when compared to some of the nation's best offensive and defensive linemen. Most of the centers really struggled with the snap for two reasons - one they are new at it and two Campbell was bringing the most powerful bull rush they have ever seen. Just ask Nick Alajajian what it feels like to keep this future college star from getting into the backfield.

Campbell actually played both ways in that game:

"He's enormous, he's explosive and he's really athletic for a big guy," Smith said. "He's a fast learner. He's a fun-spirited kid who loves the game and that's why we're able to move him on both sides of the ball because he can pick it up. He just enjoys playing the game."

Though he avoided some things:

Campbell is one of the biggest players in the Army game, but he's apparently not ready for the roller coasters when the teams visit Six Flags on Tuesday night.

"There's a weight limit on those things," he said. "I might be on the tea cups."

When it was over, Rivals named him the second-strongest DT in the country and the top run-stuffer. It's hard for defensive tackles to make a big impact at the Army game itself, but Campbell did swallow a couple guys whole. More from his Army AA coach:

"Campbell is a true Warren Sapp kind of athlete," Smith said. "I saw him out there catching punts, catching passes and then he's making all those tackles on the defensive line. He's fast, he's strong, athletic and he's big."

Ok, scouts and a particular high school coach think he's a beast. That's nice. Now add the rest of college football to the list:

DT William Campbell, Detroit Cass Tech: LSU and Miami are getting official visits, but USC seemingly has this one right. The Trojans aren't pushing hard for Campbell despite his talent because they seem to be hearing what I am hearing: Campbell will end up at Michigan in the end.

A stat update from halfway through the season has some eyepopping numbers:

The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder anchors both lines for the Technicians and has proven unbeatable in one-on-one situations. That's why teams have consistently double-, and at times triple-teamed him. Despite all of that attention, he has managed to rack up 25 tackles, including 12 for loss and nine sacks, while also forcing two fumbles. He has been the engine for a defense that has pitched three shutouts in five games and given up only 13 points all year.

Campbell ended up tacking on officials to Florida and Alabama. Let's play Jeopardy(!). LSU, Florida, Miami, USC, and Alabama. What are five schools that desperately wanted to add Campbell to their class? Correct. We would also have accepted "a short list of the top five recruiting schools in the country." Everyone wanted the guy. (Perhaps the scariest mind-juju yet in USC recruiting was their decision to avoid Campbell simply because they didn't think there was much chance to land him. 1) Prescient. 2) Who does that? USC does.)

It is worth noting the dissenting vote from ESPN, which said he was a pretty good prospect but not the budding superstar the other two sites did:

We recognize he has plenty of talent, but he fell short of a 150 grade at this time. We also feel he is not a defensive lineman at the college level -- he will be a better fit on offense. He reminds us of former Cass Tech prospect Joseph Barksdale, a defensive tackle prospect who will be playing offensive tackle this year for LSU. Campbell may enter college as a defensive tackle, but we think, much like Barksdale, he will end up on offense. Campbell is a big, but raw prospect who needs to keep developing his game.

I've said this before, but a recap: the difference between Barksdale and Campbell is that a lot of colleges, including Michigan, were recruiting Barksdale as a tackle—that was part of the rift between he and Michigan—while Campbell was recruited almost exclusively as a defensive tackle. Also, while ESPN ended up right about Barksdale's collegiate position they were still wrong to rank him so low: Barksdale became LSU's starting right tackle as a true sophomore and is on track to be an excellent three-year starter.

Also detrimental to ESPN's cause here is their directive to totally ignore the Army game (which also them to underrate Justin Turner after his dynamite performance there). Campbell showed and impressed, as noted above, and justified his position high atop the Scout and Rivals lists.

Ironically, it was ESPN that provided the picture that had everyone thinking "schwing" or "oh god if he goes to LSU I'm going to shoot myself"; let it stand as Will Campbell's image until such time as it's replaced by one with a winged helmet:


Okay, so: five-star recruit with offers from everyone at a position where there is one obvious starter—sophomore Mike Martin—and then a Canadian who didn't see much time at all last year and people switching positions from defensive end or even fullback. Also the above picture. Initiate the Thor era now?

Eh… sort of. As is often the case with enormous manbeasts that you could slice open with a light saber and use as an emergency tent without them so much as noticing, Campbell has some weight issues. And running issues:

"The hardest part is the running," he said. "The first day, we ran like eight gassers and like eight 40's. That just killed me. That was the hardest."

Campbell, who is listed by Michigan at 6 feet, 5 inches and 317 pounds, said he actually weighs 335 pounds, thanks to too much eating and inactivity before arriving in Ann Arbor. Besides shedding 20 pounds, Campbell wants to put himself in position to be a starter this season.

But he's gon' work:

"I'm going to work hard, there's no doubt about that," Campbell said. "If I work hard enough, most likely I will be starting."

Concerns about raw technique are almost definitely legit, as Campbell could throw anyone in the PSL into the ballcarrier without learning about leverage. His early enrollment will help with both that and his conditioning; chances are he is not NFL ready just yet. A year of promise beckons; it's just too bad there's no one in front of him to take the tough minutes.

Etc.: He wants #73 and knows who Zoltan is.

Why Gabe Watson? Watson was an in-state man-mountain rated about where Campbell is; Watson also had some weight issues and nice-guy issues, and a lot of people thought he didn't quite live up to his rating, which is a little silly since he was two-time all Big Ten and is an NFL starter. Also, Campbell appears to be an enormous two-gap space-eater, who's not going to get after the passer much, which makes him more in the Watson mold than the Branch mold.

Guru Reliability: Well, outside of ESPN: high. All-star game and multiple combine appearances, and offers up the wazoo.
General Excitement Level: Very high. Ratings + offers = very high likelihood to be a multi-year starter and NFL draft pick.
Projection: Immediately into the defensive tackle rotation, probably behind Sagesse to start. Potentially works his way into a starting job by the end of the year; sophomore through senior year he should be somewhere between Watson and what Watson could have been if he was mean.


Hello (Again): Will Campbell

Hello (Again): Will Campbell Comment Count

Brian January 5th, 2009 at 11:38 AM

MI DT Will Campbell recommitted on Saturday. The dossier:



Scout Rivals ESPN
5*, #4 DT 5*, #4 DT, #25 overall 79, #22 OT

campbell-thor Will Campbell first became known to Michigan fans when he committed at Michigan's summer camp a year and a half ago, when he was a rising junior. An early commit like that presaged big things—offers, rankings—and when Scout and Rivals started publishing lists of these things Campbell was indeed awarded the coveted fifth star and took his spot as the top recruit in Michigan's class. Then he decommitted, took a bunch of visits, scared the crap out of everyone, and eventually rejoined the fold. Relief goes here.

Campbell's guru ratings are reminiscent of those given to a Cass Tech defensive tackle from a couple years ago who considered Michigan and LSU but came up with the wrong answer: Joseph Barksdale. Michigan told Barksdale he'd be best as an offensive lineman, which he didn't want to hear, causing a rift. Meanwhile, both Scout and Rivals ranked him as a five star DT; ESPN said "no!" and declared him a good, not great, offensive tackle prospect.

Who was right? Eh, both, sort of. Barksdale came to LSU a defensive tackle and instantly ended up on the other side of the ball—ESPN was right—but then established himself an immediate, excellent starter as a redshirt freshman—ESPN was wrong. That latter accuracy is likely to repeat; on one side you've got two sets of recruiting analysts and virtually every program in the country. On the other you've got a few guys with a track record of goofily leaving off one or two guys every year.

A position switch a la Barksdale is not likely for Campbell, even if he played both ways at the Army All-American game, for one glaring reason: Michigan's depth chart. Michigan returns every offensive lineman on the roster and adds two highly-rated tackle prospects this year. On the other side of the ball, though, Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson exit and the candidates to start next to Mike Martin are a Canadian (Renaldo Sagesse) who saw little time a year ago and a converted fullback (Vince Helmuth) who saw none. Yikes. At a position that usually sees at least three players contributing, that's a scary depth chart.

Campbell's been the subject of dozens of articles since his decommitment, but virtually all of them are like "eeee where's he going." Not many were useful after that became clear, but a few remain relevant. The first came around this time a year ago, when Campbell smoked a wide array of the country's top talent at the Army combine:

Campbell, who is ranked as the nation's No. 55 player for 2009, wanted to show he deserves a much loftier ranking than what he's at currently. He set out to destroy every offensive linemen that was in his path. He did that and more. Using an array of spin moves, bull rushes and pure agility, Campbell couldn't be blocked.

Player after player wanted to test their ability against him, but it didn't matter.

"I want to be an All-American," Campbell said. "I want to be a five-star. That's basically why I came down to San Antonio. I wanted to show that I'm the best defensive tackle in the nation."

He might have just done that.

"He's got great size and great power," recruiting analyst Barry Every said. "I'd like to see him trim up in the belly area a little bit, but he's got it everywhere else. I can't wait to see what he looks like on game tape. He's got the potential to be a five-star guy."

This time around, Campbell was the only player at the Army game to play both ways. His coach (Terry Smith of Gateway High in Pennsylvania, who you may remember from the Justin King recruitment) was very positive about him:

"Campbell is a true Warren Sapp kind of athlete," Smith said. "I saw him out there catching punts, catching passes and then he's making all those tackles on the defensive line. He's fast, he's strong, athletic and he's big."

He's the East team's best defensive lineman according to most. (He was also ranked #12 in the state by ROR.)

More from Smith:

Massive Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech lineman William Campbell has been working with both the offensive and defensive lines during practice, and Smith said the 6-5, 317-pounder will probably go both ways.

"He's enormous, he's explosive and he's really athletic for a big guy," Smith said. "He's a fast learner. He's a fun-spirited kid who loves the game and that's why we're able to move him on both sides of the ball because he can pick it up. He just enjoys playing the game."

In the game, Campbell consistently drove back double teams and flowed down the line to make a couple tackles, but appeared to take a few plays off. He might have been spying on the QB, or just tired since he was also playing offensive line as well.

Cass Tech coach (and Michigan alum) Thomas Wilcher on his charge:

"I think he's had perseverance," noted Wilcher. "He went through his career here and kept up great academics. He kept up all his schoolwork. He worked out hard every year and he did whatever it took to become the best athlete. No matter what you asked, no matter what you told him, he always achieved that level."


Everyone except USC, and USC seemed leery not because they were skeptical of his talent but because they didn't think he would seriously consider leaving. The finalists other than Michigan were Miami, LSU, Alabama and Florida.


I couldn't dig up any, unfortunately.


Nor could I find a 40 time


Eeeeee he commits eeee:

And here's an interview from Scout:


Every signing day or thereabouts I run down the recruiting class in detail and provide a "YMRFSPA"—you may remember me from such players as—comparison. Sometimes these are a little flimsy. Jason Avant gets mentioned entirely too much. But here we have a rock-solid comparison: Gabe Watson. Watson was also a simply ginormous five-star defensive tackle recruit some thought would be better on offense. Watson also had rumored motivational issues, as is usual when you're talking about men with their own gravitational pull.

Watson was a slight disappointment during his Michigan career, but only a slight one. Instead of an All-American performer, he was an all-conference one—twice. He's currently contributing to an NFL playoff team.

Campbell's something of a goof but he's less of a softy than the legendarily nice Watson, and Watson's motivational issues were so extreme that he was benched in favor of Pat Massey for the first couple games of his senior year. He was close to the bad end of the effort continuum; Campbell is likely to be less frustrating.

Campbell's got some technique and Barwis issues to deal with, but is coming in early, which should mitigate his freshman unpreparedness considerably; with the depth chart looking like it does Campbell is at least 50-50 to start immediately and is a lock for considerable playing time as a freshman.


Well, if the other two DT recruits stick they're done at a postion of great need, and with great success. Unfortunately, it sounds like it's going to be a battle for both guys until signing day. OK DT Pearlie Graves has talked about a visit to Oklahoma for a while now. Recent scuttlebutt has been most positive, though. The commitment of Jamarkus "Texas Coke Orgy" McFarland helps, and may end Oklahoma's recruitment of Graves. It seems likely he sticks.

LA DT DeQuinta Jones, on the other hand, seems considerably more open. Keep in mind he's never actually been to Michigan's campus, committing unexpectedly after he figured out LSU probably wasn't going offer. That was seemingly because Jay Hopson is one suave dude. Hopson remains a suave dude, but Jones plans visits to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State prior to his Michigan visit.

Though the board doesn't reflect this, my current view of the situation: Graves and Campbell are commits; Jones is open but is probably going to Michigan. With no other recruits on the radar, his decision will determine whether M ends up with two or three DTs in the class.


Tuesday Recruitin'

Tuesday Recruitin' Comment Count

Brian September 16th, 2008 at 11:36 AM

Update 9/15: Linked to articles on FL S Angelo Hadley, MN WR commit Bryce McNeal, VA DE Will Hill, OK RB David Oku (second, third, fourth, fifth), MI DT Will Campbell (second), MI S Thomas Gordon, MS S Dennis Thames, SC S Devontae Holloman, NJ WR Nyshier Olivier, SC DE Sam Montgomery. Moved NJ DE Anthony Lalota to committed.

Video of OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint and OH S Isaiah Bell, TX QB Shavodrick Beaver.

Added FL QB Denard Robinson, FL LB Mike Marry, OH CB Mike Edwards, LA WR Rueben Randle. Re-added MA OL Brennan Williams, SC OL Quinton Washington.

Dropped VA QB Kevin Newsome, TN LB Greg King, AL CB Dre Kirkpatrick, IN OL Kyle Kohene, CA OL Everett Benyard.

Prep number roundup from Helmholdt. As always, some links from Varsity Blue.

Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Programming note: going forward, the recruiting posts will be on Tuesday, since Monday already has a game column and a presser bits recap as anchor content.

What has ESPN reduced us to?

The Beav was on the teevee on Thursday. If you missed it to do something more socially respectable like drink a fifth of Wild Turkey and throw up on a clown, Varsity Blue has your back:

Aren’t those otters, by the way? I’m pretty sure they’re otters.

Beaver’s final numbers were impressive: 21 for 33 for 249 yards and two touchdowns plus 18 carries for 84 yards; the rushing average goes up significantly if you cut out the sacks. There was a bad interception and a back-breaking fumble late when Beaver attempted to do too much with the ball.

The overall opinion on Beaver from people in the chat was positive with some reservations. Beaver showed excellent touch on his short passes and kept his eyes downfield while scrambling around, sometimes with spectacular results. His running between effective and dynamic. There were a couple Favre-ian moments where he ran around and threw a ball that looked like a terrible idea only to see it hauled in by an open receiver. The reservations: dude is a bit of a toothpick, he occasionally loops a pass he should rifle in, and general high-school-kid-doing-too-much stuff. He outplayed the Sulfur Springs quarterback, a top 100 player to Rivals.

Come home, prodigal Thor.

Everyone’s still a little freaked out about MI DT Will Campbell’s decommitment but I am telling you not to fret. So is Campbell’s mom:

"He's still basically committed to U-M, but I said there is nothing wrong with going to visit a few schools. There is nothing wrong with that."

Also, Mike Farrell says this:

Sources close to Campbell say that while he's going to enjoy the process, take his official visits and see some other programs, he is inclined to re-commit to Michigan in the end unless he's absolutely blown away by someone else. Michigan already has a commitment from Cass Tech running back Teric Jones and expects to add Cass Tech athlete Thomas Gordon soon, and you can bet both will be working on Campbell to stay home.

Insert default language about bler bler nothing’s settled until he’s signed a piece of paper in February; given this and other chatter from and about the Cass Tech guys I’ma keeping Campbell blue.

Other bits from that Farrell piece:

  • MD DE Jason Ankrah tried to commit to PSU but got rebuffed and is now listing M, Tennessee, and VT. Ankrah and MD CB Travis Hawkins, his teammate, will be in for officials October third.
  • Michigan is “making a push” for FL CB Josh Robinson but the “smart money” is on UCF or USF unless one of the instate big three gets involved. Sounds like the kid wants to stay home. He will take an official.


Dude: Fitzgerald Toussaint. Toussaint has been bludgeoning people. Killing them. Hopping up and down on his vanquished foes drinking mead out of their skulls and ravishing their women. And running. For touchdowns. Rivals’ All The Way To Friday featured Liberty last week; Toussaint went for 261 yards and four touchdowns. You can check out video here; you might have to find the Liberty game underneath the main window. It’s worth it: Toussaint hurdles a guy a la McGuffie and just generally looks sweet.

On Friday, Toussaint did this in a 32-14 win:

Toussaint opened the scoring with a 72-yard scamper in the first quarter, scored a second-quarter touchdown from 35 yards out, and added scoring runs of 57 and 37 yards in the second half.

The University of Michigan recruit carried the ball 19 times for 258 yard, boosting his rushing total to 843 yards after only four games.

Toussaint is averaging 13.5 YPC. Here come the fawning quotes:

Toussaint “ran hard, he ran through some tacklers,” Liberty coach Jeff Whittaker said. “He’s got great speed, great acceleration.” …

Toussaint “runs angry,” [Struthers coach Dallas] Saunders said. “He’s not brought down by first contact. Even when we were on him, he made things happen.”

A couple Rivals observers reported being very impressed; he’s one to watch for a possible flight up the rankings.

Update: highlights from that Struthers game:

Commitment watchin’.

With NJ DE Anthony Lalota in the fold, Michigan finally has a shiny defensive end prospect to show all the cool kids and is up to 17 commitments.

Up next on the watch list are MI S Thomas “Prison Abs” Gordon, who plans to decide between Michigan and Michigan State on the 26th, and AZ DE Craig Roh, who’s changed his visit plans up a bit and plans to decide sometime in the next few weeks. Michigan is believed to be in strong position for both.

Weirdo watchin’.

Meanwhile, OK RB David Oku dropped Michigan, then re-added them, then said he would announce Wednesday and everyone said it was Tennessee, then publicly disavowed Tennessee, then moved his date back to October. OMG. Drama.

All of this is probably moot for Michigan fans, as M got the boot once before and seems to be on the list as an afterthought. Also: Michigan has two or three RBs already in the class, depending on whether or not Smith and Jones end up in the slot. Also also:

"I want an offense that I like and fits my style. Other than that I really don't care about anything else."

So what kind of offense is Oku looking for? "I really like the west coast offense," he admitted. "I think that suits me the best. I'm actually not too big a fan of the spread offense though."

Oku is not coming to Michigan unless he does a sudden 180. Given the events of the past week this will happen Thursday and he will commit. On Sunday he will decommit and announce he’s headed to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi; next Tuesday he will exclaim “too much nitrogen!” and commit to the moon.

New guys.

A number of additions to the board: FL LB Mike Marry is a high three-star sort who claims to have picked up a Michigan offer. Meanwhile, LA WR Rueben Randle has long listed Michigan but I never bothered to put him on the board because I naturally assumed he would stay south. This remains the general feeling but he is planning an official, so on the board he goes. OH CB Mike Edwards picked up an offer.He goes to Glenville, which is normally a dead zone for Michigan recruiting, but Ohio State is full up on defensive backs and won’t be leaping in with an offer.

Two OL show back up because M recruiting sites put out articles on them, but we’re still a longshot for MA OL Brennan Williams and no one knows much about where SC OL Quinton Washington might like to go to school. FWIW.

Finally, FL QB Denard Robinson says Michigan’s recruiting him as a quarterback-plus-other-options. He seems like a longshot, too.

Etc. MS S Dennis Thames is kind of noncommital about schools; Michigan may be fading. Sounds like he really wants to go to LSU but isn’t likely to pick up an offer. SC S and Clemson soft commit Devontae Holloman says he’s “really only looking at SEC schools” for his visits; this conflicts with previous information indicating he would trip to M. MN WR commit Bryce McNeal comes in for some fluff.